The citizens you meet at dumps are the cream of the crop! Want to know why America rocks? Go to a dump!
It was a flurry of activity. A couple dozen vehicles (which is a crowd in these parts) were speeding from pile to pile. Nearly every vehicle was a truck and most (mine included) were towing trailers. Rusty Toyotas and gleaming diesel monsters were equally represented. Everyone operated their vehicle with the subtle confidence of people who know what they’re doing.
Real Americans have equipment and they know how to use it.
There were no roads between piles; just informal narrow rutted dirt trails. Luckily every truck was expertly piloted; zipping efficiently and quickly from pile to pile. A Wal-mart parking lot reminds me of chimps at a zoo but here, in the natural habitat of men and trucks, machinery was flitting around like bees in a hive.
Cooperation reigned. When vehicles met on narrow paths an instant and silent negotiation ensued. Everyone worked together to slip past each other. I saw three trucks zooming down a narrow dead end path while two trucks (both with trailers) approached in the opposite direction. On a city street one or more would be piloted by a fool and it would slow everyone’s progress. There were no jackass antics here. Drivers immediately adapted. All five jockeyed into place; one paused, two continued, one backed up, and one eased off the path. With flawless precision and timing everyone took their turn filtering though the bottleneck. Elapsed time? Forty seconds tops. Total and instant cooperation among strangers! I’ve seen people screw up merging grocery carts. A dump brings out the best in men.
Yes, I said men. Every truck had from one to three men; occasionally you’d see a boy happily riding shotgun. Probably 50 people at a a time were hard at work with people entering and leaving in quick intervals. I saw only one woman; she was unloading a truck like everyone else. Good for her! In local lingo the men would admiringly say “she’s a keeper!” A woman can do anything a man can do but apparently men take out the garbage. I don’t know why.
Everyone was smiling. Did I mention that? Amid piles of junk everyone was as happy as a lark.
People who work have pride. Pride feels good.
Getting something done, even the mundane, is progress. Progress feels good.
People who are sullen and useless don’t go to the dump. Good thing too; we don’t need their drama. We’ve got work to do.
I lined up my trailer. It was a tight fit between two trucks. Three guys were hard at work emptying them. They saw me and nodded. Two shifted to the back and one jumped in the truck bed. My runway was clear. I engaged 4×4 and backed just right; easing up a steep muddy slope and swerving around nasty ruts. Whew! Backing with skill is imperative in the high society of a dump!
Before I’d opened my door, one of the adjacent trucks roared off and another was lining up to replace it. While I was heaving old siding on the pile I noticed a guy (who, like me, was there solo) that was struggling with some big sheets of plywood. I grabbed the other ends and helped. He thanked me and zoomed off. The next person backed in just inches past my truck mirror. I wasn’t worried. If he couldn’t drive he wouldn’t be here. Three guys jumped out and started flinging old shingles while telling jokes.
I was unloading as fast as I could. Construction debris is heavy! I was about two thirds done. I’d just finished wrestling with an old plank and reached for the next item. Half of the remaining load was gone. Huh? I looked up and two fellows were reaching in and chucking stuff fast and furious. “Gee thanks!” I stammered to one. “No sweat”, he said, “no use sitting on my ass waiting for you.” I glanced up and saw his truck lined up for my spot. Both doors were open. With their help the trailer was unloaded in 45 seconds. I thanked both fellows, dropped the truck in gear, and motored out. They waved and seconds later were occupying the spot I’d vacated.
Cooperation and independence. Chaos that generates order. Stunning efficiency.
I got in and out and moved a half ton of debris in 15 minutes. About the same speed as everyone else. When a group of people has no losers, industriousness takes hold.
It was heartening. Like everyone, I get concerned about our nation. We bear a lot of fat useless turds getting elected by other fat useless turds. The losers of society make things hard for the rest of us. Fortunately that’s not the whole picture. There is still a backbone of hard working, cooperative, industrious citizens. Folks who are equipped and willing to get things done. Folks who will help you unload your trailer because it’s a nice thing to do and because they want to get your ass out of the way. There are places where everyone has a goal and makes it happen. Places where nobody is bitching and everyone is happy because the people who bitch aren’t fouling the air. Go to a dump. You’ll find hope and optimism there. Americans who take out the trash continue to hold it together.